Wednesday, 30 March 2011

the royal icing on the cake

every girl knows that the two most important aspects of a wedding are: 1) the dress and 2) the cake. ok, the groom may sit at number 1 but the other two following very closely.

today we learned that the most glorious, expensive and elaborate (yes, even more so than a gypsy wedding but without the pink hue) of the year, the Royal Wedding, will include a cake baked by Fiona Cairns. That's quite a look to have on your CV.

the BBC have also confirmed that Kate and Will's are so fancy, they're going to have TWO cakes! The first will be Fiona's, a traditional, multi-tiered, white iced fruit cake with edible flowers.

On gaining her highest profile client yet, Ms Cairns said:

"I couldn't believe it, I'm very excited, very daunted and very privileged - a mixture of emotions.

Fiona Cairns"It's multi-tiered, doesn't have colour - it's cream and white (icing) - and it's a traditional cake but also quite delicate and modern, all the tiers will have a different theme."

She said of Miss Middleton's input: "She has guided us right from the beginning and has quite strong ideas.

"She knew very much what she wanted and she brought us mood boards and told us what influences she would like us to use on the cake."

On the ingredients: "These are many of the ingredients we will be using in the cake, I can't tell you exactly the recipe, but the brandy is very important, we always soak our fruits overnight to plump up the fruits,"

Paul Courtney of McVities will be crafting the second cake from a royal family recipe but was unable to speak of it's components, calling it a "royal secret".

source: BBC

hannah's bakery pt II

my dear friend hannah knows me all too well. at the weekend she presented a cake with an exciting ingredient, dime bars! adding a sugary texture, it was the perfect addition to achieve not just your average chocolate cake. oh and it was embellished with icing with edible glitter and star sprinkles for extra brownie points!



Sunday, 27 March 2011

treats for mother

there's no better excuse for cake than on mother's day.

if you've got no time to whisk up some treats this week then see below for what the bakeries have to offer!

Pattisserie Valerie
Belgian Chocolates - £10 (available online and in store)

Belgian Truffles

Hummingbird Bakery
Available 1st April to 3rd April 2011
Mother’s Day Vanilla Sponge Cake: £30 (available online by pre-order only)
Mother’s Day Cupcakes: £2.95 each (available in-store)
Gift box of 6 Mother’s Day Hand-decorated Cupcakes: £20 (available online by pre-order only)
Gift box of 12 Mother’s Day Mini Delights: £24 (available online by pre-order only)




Marks & Spencer
Available now
Bake Mum A Cake gift set - £15

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Thursday, 24 March 2011

starbucks pops cakes on the menu

as i stopped off for a money coffee in starbucks the other day, i noticed a new feature behind the glass of the shelf of delights. yep, cake pops have finally made it to the mainstream over here and with a starbucks on almost every corner of any path i'm on during m weekdays in london, they're going to be tough to resist!

i noticed only 3 different types in (one of) my local and was tempted to take a cheeky snap but couldn't risk my caramel macchiato so had to resist. obviously, they're on the internet (hoorah!) so i've managed to track down one that will show them off to their full potential unlike my photographic skills.

let's read a little about why someone's finally decided to ship these quaint treats across the pond in a note from starbucks themselves.

Question: Why Cake Pops?
Answer: A Cake Pop solves the ever lasting question of how to make cake portable – it’s whimsical, fun and delicious cake on a stick. What’s not to like? This has been an emerging trend popping up in specialty bake shops, on blogs like Bakearella and even touted by Martha Stewart. Because cake pops require a very gentle, handmade process to roll, dip and decorate, they prove very difficult to make on a large scale. I have to credit Lisa B., our food R&D manger, for championing this idea. Between our bakery partner, Lisa, and myself, we were able to create a high-quality experience. Everyone can now eat cake on the go!   

Question:  How did you pick the flavors?
Answer: To celebrate our 40Th year a Birthday Cake Pop was a must. The Tiramisu Cake Pop spoke to our coffee heritage and the Rocky Road Cake Pop was just a fun flavor we thought people would like.

Question: I confess, I tried to make a Cake Pop and it slid off the stick. Any secrets to get the pop to stay put?
Answer: Oh boy! This was a significant problem early on. We spent months trying to stabilize the cake. At one point we thought of using a two-pronged stick to pierce the pop in place or adding a basket holder for stabilization. Ultimately, reducing the size just slightly and double-dipping the stick in chocolate solved the problem. I must admit, the night before launch I could hardly sleep with visions of Cake Pops falling into coffee cups as people tried our new treat. I’m now sleeping much better.   

Question:  So they’re all under 200 calories, which is amazing, but how many did you have to eat to make the perfect Cake Pop?
Answer: Six thousand, three hundred and ninety-five. Not really. But I ate quite a few!

(source: starbucks)
want to see more on cake pops? click here!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

blueberry birthday


this year, i struggled decide on my birthday cake until i found the recipe for this blueberry bunt. although i'm not an avid fan of the superfood, i do enjoy it mixed in pancakes, muffins etc. not only incorporated into a vanilla sponge, the berries were also sprinkled and their juice was drizzled for decor. the frosting was cream cheese, one of my favs.

the left overs also made the perfect blueberry muffins!





birthday surprise!

after an eventful week of celebrating 4 birthdays, the blues started to creep upon me yesterday and although i had scoffed more cake than your average baker, i was definitely feeling the withdrawal.

this is when work saved the day with a colourful classic vicky sponge wrapped in sugarpaste - the perfect afternoon slump pick-me-up. deeelish!

katy perry gets caked on tour

although i primarily focus on my baking experiences (successes AND fails), my views of other bakeries and my thoughts on bakeware/equipment, i am partial to incorporating celebs who have anything to do with cake.

cue, katy perry, who i spotted in this week's glossy mags sporting a 3D cupcake dress while on tour. needless to say, this didn't actually come as a shock to me (more a slight twinge of pleasure as it was baking relevant) as the girl has been known to sport some barmy outfits including candy canes and pastries for a brassiere .

imagine if these were real, not your ideal party frock but at least you'd never go hungry i suppose.

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Friday, 18 March 2011

cream cheese melting: EDIT

i have also been advised today that if you over whip said frosting, this can also cause the mixture to thin out and become runny!!

to avoid this i normally melt the butter a little in the microwave, probably 10-20 seconds just so it's soft enough that you continue to try and beat out the lumps with the electric whisk!

a launch to increase your paunch.

the other day, the other half and i took a trip to the hummingbird bakery's launch for their new book, cake days. this means only on thing - free cake and champagne! there were a plethora of miniature cupcakes to choose from including strawberry cheesecake, coconut & pineapple and chocolate.

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i was also lucky enough to receive the new book as a birthday gift! not only is it packed full of 100 recipes but it also included tips and tricks such as achieving that perfect palette knife icing effect.

cake days is out now.


surprise birthdays: you always want them to run as smoothly as possible (especially if they're your mother's and she has the eyes of a hawk). i guess i should have known what i was getting myself into when i nominated myself for the role of 'desert chef' of the evening!

for this particular birthday, i decided to kick start spring with a lemon cheesecake and some pastel coloured cupcakes. note to self - purple is not as easy a colour to create as it looks. it's about a 5-1 ratio blue to red so i've learned to be especially vigilant with my scarlet tones.

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cream cheese melting

in my previous posts (red velvet cupcakes) i have suggested, from experience, that full fat cream cheese is the best way to achieve great cream cheese frosting.

however, i discovered on wednesday that this, sadly, is not the case! after requesting philadelphia (quality...), my mother returned from the shops armed with 'soft creamy cheese' curtsy of waitrose essential range. all i can say is, i knew this cake was doomed.

let's take a look at the first lesson we learnt....

low fat                                                           full fat
melted, droopy and sticky                             light, fluffy and sculpted

and so, ever since i have been religiously using full fat only. until waitrose came along and threw a spanner in the works. if you want to be able to work with the frosting using a palette knife (and not come back in 10 minute to find it running down the side of the cake), i strongly suggest sticking to philadelphia for now!

just iced...

sadly, after a few minutes we have said avalanche


Thursday, 17 March 2011

lucy's surprise...

i'm sure many fashion and music savvy folk, and those who are just generally in the know, tuned in to lily allen's new tv series, From Riches to Rags, on tuesday night. the show follows lily and her sister, sarah owen, as they embark on a venture into retail with a plan to open a vintage shop called lucy in disguise.

yesterday, the vintage store revealed a sneek peek of the launch for their new collection where i happened to stumble across some luscious looking cupcakes to help add ambience. check them out below!

(source: lucy in disguise blog)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

pancake day

if you're planning to get involved in shrove tuesday be it crepes or american style, there's always one recipe we use down at the winkwell every year that is so simple, you can't lose.

when shrove tuesday rolls around i'm summoned to the utility room to dust off our ancient copy of the Good Housekeeping recipe book and find the pancake recipe.

Good Housekeeping's simple pancakesmaking the batter is the easy part - milk, flour and egg and all you need to do next is combine the ingredients - idiot proof! flipping the pancake is what people tend to shy away from but the trick is to make sure the pan is hot before pouring the batter onto it.

125g (4oz) plain flour

pinch of salt
1 medium egg
300ml (½
 pint) milk
oil and butter to fry

as i'm obviously a little late on the blog post, why not have these as a complimentary desert to your savoury pancakes. i love to try and channel the french with a ham and cheese crepe!




Sunday, 6 March 2011

patisserie valerie

after a trip into central london i stumbled across a patisserie valerie en route back to the tube station. turns out this is a brand new branch of the chain of pastries located in charing cross. as i've never tried any of their smaller pastries, i was itching to get inside. almost instantly, it was decided to purchase a slice of custard mille feuille ("thousand-leaf").

a classic french treat, mille feuille consists of three layers of puff pastry loaded with surplus amounts of custard (creme patissiere) or cream and topped off with a delicately fancy design.

the quintessential cafe full of delights ranging from fresh fruit tarts to dainty slices of cheesecake. and if that wasn't enough, the store also sells fruit smoothies, ice cream and a number of hot beverages, all of which are available to take away!



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